The kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in 2014 made global headlines. From poor Nigerian families, these girls had defied the odds and pursued an education, but daring to dream resulted in one of the most high-profile abductions in modern history. Award-winning CNN anchor Isha Sesay was on the front lines as the story broke, and when 21 of the girls were released, she was the only journalist to accompany them on their dangerous journey back home.
In Beneath the Tamarind Tree, having developed unprecedented access to the Chibok girls, Sesay shares an intimate account of the night Boko Haram attacked, exclusive details about their years in captivity, and their daring tales of escape. We meet Priscilla who dreamt of becoming a doctor, Saa who juggled schoolwork with family obligations, Mary who fought constant homesickness to stay in school, and Dorcas who planned to be the first in her family to get a college degree.
Sesay delves into the inadequate Nigerian government response to the kidnapping, while synthesizing lessons about global national security. She also reminds us of the personal sacrifice required of journalists to bring us the truth, at a time of growing mistrust of the media. Beneath the Tamarind Tree is a gripping read and a story of resilience with a soaring message of hope at its core, reminding us of the ever-present truth that progress for all of us hinges on unleashing the potential of women.